X-Mas Spirit Short-Lived as Dirty Plays Take Center Stage Wednesday Night

Zach BuckleyNational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 26, 2012

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 26:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers is called for a flagrant foul on Kenneth Faried #35 of the Denver Nuggets and was ejected from the game in the third quarter at Pepsi Center on December 26, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 126-114. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The NBA's 2012 Christmas Day offering gave basketball fans a slew of highly competitive, spirited contests among the league's elites.

The mesmerized sports world buzzed on December 26. The opportunity to see that many championship contenders squaring off against each other was one that did not go unnoticed by casual fans and hoop junkies alike.

With 13 games on the docket (only 12 were played with the Indiana Pacers-Chicago Bulls meeting postponed due to inclement Indiana weather), the league hoped to capitalize on the interest drummed up during the holiday season.

But any lingering positive vibes didn't quite make it 24 hours. Not on the NBA hardwood at least.

While the general population recovered from an overindulgence of holiday feasts, professional hoopers returned to the floor with a certain chippiness typically reserved for playoff basketball.

Dwyane Wade opened the festivities with a shot to Ramon Sessions' groin that even DeMarcus Cousins would frown upon.

The intent of Wade's actions wasn't questioned by Sessions:

Sessions has no doubt Wade did that "on purpose.'' Video seems to confirm as much.

— Rick Bonnell (@rick_bonnell) December 27, 2012


Or by his Charlotte Bobcat teammates:

Talk out of Charlotte locker room was about knee to groin that Sessions took from Wade.

— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) December 27, 2012


Never one to cast a stone, I'll let you be the judge.

Unfortunately for the league, though, Wade was only the opening act for the night's series of questionable moves.

Next up was New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith.

Although he avoided the all-too-popular, cringe-worthy groin shot, this play on Goran Dragic may have been the most dangerous of the night.

Not to be outdone, Los Angeles Lakers big man Dwight Howard got in the mix later on in the night in Denver.

Nearly three quarters into yet another frustrating game, Howard let his emotions take over.

And not in the way that Lakers fans had hoped:

Dwight Howard just got ejected. Hit with a flagrant 2 foul for pushing Faried with 2 hands, not making a play on the ball.

— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 27, 2012


It didn't have the are-you-kidding-me factor of Wade's play, nor the danger factor of Smith's, but Howard's decision was equally indefensible.

Even the Golden State Warriors continued their unlikely pursuit of the NBA elites.

Midway through the second quarter of their game with the Utah Jazz, Utah big man Enes Kanter shoved Golden State's Carl Landry. Warriors point guard Jarrett Jack headed straight for Kanter, but was met by a shove from Derrick Favors:

Favors isn't gonna back down, man. Not from Jack. He had Kanter's back on that one. Nice to see if you're a Jazz fan.

— Jim Burton (@jmb247) December 27, 2012


It wasn't an egregious encounter—certainly not by the night's standards—but it was yet another reminder that the Christmas season ends at 12:01 a.m. on December 26.